State’s archery deer season off to fast start

Springfield – Strictly by the numbers, Illinois’ archery season
opened up with a bang – or, more appropriately, a “swoosh.”

Reports from hunters statewide were thick with sightings of
plenty and “plenty big” deer. And DNR reported that through the
first four days of the season, hunters shot 6,250, up from the
5,059 killed during the first four days of 2008 and up dramatically
from the 2,608 in 2007, the 3,632 in 2006 and even the 4,463 in
2005.

Steve Henkel, owner of Henkel Hook and Arrow in Carlyle, said a
hunter from Marion County dropped by his shop with an 8-point buck
that field dressed at 150 pounds.

“That’s the biggest I’ve heard,” Henkel said, noting that high
winds hindered hunters on the opener. “We’ve had so much wind
lately, you kind of have to have enough guts to sit in a tree, not
to mention have your aim right with the sway.”

Like many, Henkel also thinks the full moon had an effect on the
deer, though many counties saw dramatic increases.

In Randolph county, hunters took 96 deer between the opener on
Oct. 1 through Oct. 4. Last year hunters in the county harvested
45. In 2007, the harvest was 23.

Overall in 2009, the top five counties at the four-day harvest
mark were Pike (298), Jefferson (196), Vermilion (150), Fulton
(150), and LaSalle (142).

DNR biologist Paul Shelton was quick to point out that this
year’s opening four days included a full weekend.

“Not all of the previous years’ results contain an entire
weekend,” Shelton said in his report. The 2008 opening four-day
segment was Wednesday through Saturday; in 2007 it was Monday
through Thursday, in 2006 it was Sunday through Wednesday and
Saturday through Tuesday in 2005.

An opener that includes a weekend is certainly a plus,
especially since more hunters take to their stands. Not that 2009
was a perfect opener.

Farmers across the state are facing a later harvest than normal,
meaning crops are still standing in most regions. As of Oct. 5,
corn harvest was at 5 percent for the state, compared to 9 percent
through the same date in 2008 and the five-year average of 41
percent.

Soybean harvest was at 6 percent, compared to 20 percent in 2008
and the five-year average of 40 percent. Weather was not a major
factor.

“Opening day was a little rainy throughout much of the state,
with some rain in the morning in areas to the south,” Shelton
said.

Shelton said that sex ratios during the first four days were 72
percent female and 28 percent male.

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